Well for the fourth weekend running we stayed in Staffordshire and plodded the same old familiar route. We weren't expecting much today, although there had been a little bit at Blithfield recently. Westport was quiet today, and so we were down at Blithfield before 0900hrs. The sun was out so we headed over to Blithe Bay first where the light would be better. It was not a bad start to the days birding with five Dunlin, fifteen Ringed Plover, a Green Sand and two Black-tailed Godwits.
Black-tailed Godwit in Blithe Bay
We walked round Beech Tree Point and saw the ever faithful "Bird of the Day" - the Osprey perched in his usual tree, surveying the world and thinking what was for dinner today.
Osprey in Tad Bay
From the hide in Tad, where we met up with Graham, Roger & Steve, we had a Black-necked Grebe, two fem-type Garganey and seven Ringed Plovers flew in. It turned into rather a good visit this week.
Two Garganey (above) and the Black-necked Grebe
And so it was onto Branston for our next stop. The field still hasn't been cut yet, but I now know where the tracks are that run through it, so it wasn't so much of a slog this week. (If you are reading this Mr Farmer at Branston, the field on the way to Stansley Wood with the same crop in it as yours was cut a fortnight ago! Have you forgotten about it this yr?). There were six Little Egrets on the first pit but that was about all. I walked round to the Sandy Pit, had my usual chat with the nice security guard (bit serious this week - warned me about the moving vehicles on the track. I told him that they don't work on a Saturday afternoon. He laughed then promptly told me he'd just seen four Buzzards! Bless him). There was a Greenshank, but it walked beneath the reeds in front of me and out of view. A quick scan revealed two Green Sands, but that was all, as per usual. Then, I presumed the Greenshank had come back into view. When I lifted my bins, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a juv Spotted Redshank. At last, a semi-decent wader at Branston. I managed to take a few shots, but it was flushed by two Greenshank and flew off.
Spotted Redshank at BGP
I decided to walk back towards the bridge just in case any waders were down the bottom corner. To my complete surprise, there was a whole flock sitting roosting on a bank. It was just like Minsmere, except it was a gravel pit in Staffs. A scan thru revealed the two Greenshank, ten Green Sands and a Wood Sand all roosting on the bank. It had turned out to be rather a good visit for a change.
So we headed off to another pit nearby to see what was there. Pops joined me after his nap. There was another reason for him joining me - it was the Bloodstock festival again, and the stage is clearly visible from where we were going to. Pops is a thrash metal fan, and his favourite heavy metal group, The Evil Slashers were playing. We could bird, and listen to thrash metal at the same time. As I set my scope up to scan the lagoon, The Evil Slashers belted out their iconic hit, "Slash, acid and death". Pops was in heaven, dancing away. Now, being 77, he's not the dancer he used to be. I tried to warn him, but he slipped, and ended up in a heap at the bottom of a slope. Now, those of you who know the area, realise its about a one mile walk back to the car. Pop's ankle was at a different angle to what it should be and minor panic set in. I'm not sure how, but we managed to get back to the car after an hours struggle, and Pops was clearly in a lot of pain. I drove home, got changed and we were up the accident unit for five hours. Pops had managed to break his ankle!